Sergei Kovalev

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Sergei Adamovich Kovalev (Russian: Сергей Адамович Ковалёв) (born March 2, 1930) was a notable dissident and political prisoner in the former Soviet Union, and is a human rights activist and politician in the post-Soviet Russian Federation.

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[edit] Early career and first arrest

Sergei Kovalev was born in the town of Seredina-Buda in Ukraine, near Sumy. In 1932, his family moved to Podlipki village near Moscow. In 1954 he graduated from Moscow State University. As a biophysicist, Kovalev authored more than 60 scientific publications. From mid-1950s, he opposed Trofim Lysenko's theories favored by the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In 1969, he founded the first Soviet human rights association, the Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights in the USSR, and later became the principal link to the dissident movement in Lithuania. Kovalev actively participated in publication of samizdat periodicals such as Moscow-based Chronicle of Current Events and The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

He was arrested on December 8, 1974 and tried in Vilnius, charged with "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70 of the RSFSR Penal Code) and served seven years in labor camps in Perm region and Chistopol prison, and later three years in internal exile at Kolyma. Upon his return, he settled in Kalinin (today Tver).

[edit] During perestroika

During perestroika initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, Kovalev was allowed to return to Moscow. In that period, he continued his activism and participated in founding of several key humanitarian organizations and initiatives:

  • The human rights society Memorial, dedicated to memory and rehabilitation of victims of political repressions in the USSR. Kovalev serves as its chairman since 1990.
  • The Moscow branch of Amnesty International.
  • The International Humanitarian Conference (December 1987)
  • Press-club "Glasnost"

In 1989, Andrei Sakharov recommended him as a codirector of the Project Group for defense of Human Rights, later renamed into Russian-American Human Rights Group.

[edit] Post-Soviet period

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kovalev turned to official politics. In January 1991, he coauthored the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights in Russia and was a major contributor to the Article 2 (Rights and Liberties of Man and Citizen) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. From 1990 to 1993, he was an elected People's Deputy of the Russian Federation, and a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation. He served as the Chairman of the President's Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Commissioner for the Russian parliament, the State Duma. In 1993 and 1995 he was a deputy of the Russian State Duma. In 1996, he was a member of Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Union.

In 1993, he co-founded the movement and later, the political party Choice of Russia (Выбор России), now called Democratic Choice of Russia (Демократический выбор России).

Since 1994, Kovalev has been publicly opposed to the Russia's military involvement in Chechnya. From Grozny, he personally witnessed and reported the realities of the First Chechen War. His daily reports via telephone and on TV galvanized Russian public opinion against the war.[citation needed] For his activism, he was removed from his post in the Duma in 1995.[citation needed]

Kovalev has been an outspoken critic of authoritarian tendencies in the administrations of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. In 1996, he resigned as head of Yeltsin's presidential human rights commission. In 2002, he organized a public commission to investigate the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings (the Kovalev Commission [1]), which was effectively paralyzed after one of its members Sergei Yushenkov was assassinated [2] [3], another member Yuri Shchekochikhin poisoned with thallium [4] [5], and its legal counsel and investigator Mikhail Trepashkin arrested [6] [7] by Russian authorities.

He is a recipient of numerous awards and honorary titles. In 1995 and 1996, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

[edit] Works

[edit] Further reading

Emma Gilligan. Defending Human Rights in Russia: Sergei Kovalyov, Dissident and Human Rights Commisioner, 1969-96 (BASEES/Curzon Series on Russian & East European Studies) RoutledgeCurzon. 2003. ISBN 0-415-32369-X Link to internet versionde:Sergei Adamowitsch Kowaljow lt:Sergejus Kovaliovas ru:Ковалёв, Сергей Адамович

Sergei Kovalev

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